Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author that makes you stay up past your bedtime. Once you start reading her books, you can’t put them down, even as you tell yourself to slow down, savor it. You know you’re going to be mad when the book is over and you have to wait until her next book is released yet you can’t stop yourself. I haven’t been disappointed by one of her books yet and “Malibu Rising” continued this trend. Get your hands on a copy of this book as quick as you can and enjoy!
“Malibu Rising” is the story of the Riva family told in alternating timelines. One is the love story between Mick, who wants to be a singer and June, who wants to escape her dull life in the 1950s. The other is the story of their 4 children who are dealing with their own issues in the 1980s, on the day they are throwing their annual end of summer party. Nina, the eldest whose tennis star husband has just left her in a highly publicized way; Jay, who desperately wants to be a famous surfer but whose chances are slipping away; Hudson, a photographer who takes pictures of Jay’s surfing while keeping a secret from him; and Kit, the youngest who longs to be taken seriously for the talented surfer she is. Reid is a master at weaving stories between time periods, allowing the reader to discover bits and pieces about her characters until you understand each one. At the same time, she can introduce a character that is only in the story for a few pages and make them unforgettable. (I’m looking at you Tarine!) I genuinely liked each sibling and their love for each other felt authentic. The issues they dealt with were realistic, not gimmicky to add drama to the plot, and were true to what real siblings deal with.
While this is primarily a story about the kids, the thread that holds the entire story together is Mick. He is the shadow that looms over them, even when he is away from their lives. Readers were first introduced to Mick briefly in Reid’s 2017 book “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” (which if you haven’t read, you need to stop reading this review, go to your library or bookstore and start reading right now) but little was known about him other than he was a famous singer. His and June’s story is not a happy one, and Mick is an awful man and father, but their story is an engaging one and this part of the book is where I felt Reid really shined. To see how Mick and June’s relationship influenced the lives of their children was fascinating and I could have read more of that time period.
This book was headed towards 5-star territory for me until the very end when Reid started having different party guests narrate the story. I didn’t mind this at first and if anyone can pull this off, it’s her, but I felt there were just too many new characters introduced all at once to keep track of. Even though they were all interesting and had their own personalities, it go confusing. When it’s revealed towards the end where some of the party goers ended up, I had a hard time remembering who was who. But honestly, I would read a book about pretty much any of the people at that party because Reid is so good at developing characters so this is a small quibble in an otherwise fantastic book.
At this point, I would read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s grocery list if she announced that was her next release. She has a way of sucking you into the world of her characters and making you not want to leave. Even though this isn’t my favorite book of hers, it’s still a wonderful look at a family amid an upheaval and about finding what truly makes you happy. I highly recommend.
“How were you supposed to change- in ways both big and small- when your family was always there to remind you of exactly the person you apparently signed an ironclad contract to be?”
“This is what she had always wanted to avoid: being forced to pretend men were interesting.”
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 1, 2021
Rating: 4.5 Stars